The word “advent,” meaning “coming" or "arrival,” itself is always forward-looking. Even as we remember the birth of Jesus, by definition we also are looking forward to the new things God is doing now; the new ways God’s love, justice, and compassion are being born among us; the new ways this old, old story is being shared with a new generation and folks who’ve never heard it before or never dared to believe God’s good news is for them, too. Our schedule throughout the holidays reflects this mix of traditional and new, as we remember “Our faith is over 2000 years old. Our thinking is not.”
NEW! All-Church Advent Event, Sunday 12/1 after worship
This year, we’re kicking off the season with an all-church Advent Event. We’ll decorate our church home; instruct and encourage our children with crafts and stories; and adults and children alike will share in a hands-on mission project making simple blankets for children facing transition and trauma.
Advent Preaching, Sundays 12/1, 8, 15, & 22 @ 10am
We hear it so often, it’s not surprising the characters in the nativity story may have become more like caricatures. This year, we’ll work to flesh-out the full humanity of the prophets who waited for the messiah; the parents who risked everything to bring the baby into the world; the poor folks who heard the good news; and the powers-that-be, like Herod, for whom it didn’t sound so good.
Flash-Mob Nativity, Sundays 12/1-1/5
We provide the stable, you people it. Please loan us a figure or two from your own nativity scene at home (carefully ID’d so we can return it to you in January) to decorate the communion table this Advent. It doesn’t matter if we end up with three Maries, 8 magi, and a giraffe; in fact, that’s the point. No matter who we are or where we are on life’s journey, we are all part of God’s beloved blended family.
The Giving Tree, Gifts due back in worship 12/8 @ 10am
Take a bell from the tree in the hallway by the chapel and follow the instructions there to purchase a gift card (or a gift) for the family clients of the Elizabeth Stone House, a transitional shelter for women and children escaping abusive relationships to begin new lives. Then return those gifts in worship December 8. You can hang the bell on your own tree to remind you of that quiet connection with others in need.
Christmas Pageant, rehearsals 12/8, 15, & 24
Proving that the story of Jesus really is for everyone, we hear it presented each year in the form of a homespun Christmas pageant, with parts for all ages, children and adults. If you’d like to participate (in a speaking or non-speaking part), check out the casting sheet at www.NeedhamUCC.org/pageant and speak to Rev. Maddie
Soup Lunches: Advent Edition, Thursdays 12/5, 12, & 19 @ noon
Join us for warm food and fuzzy fellowship every Thursday in Advent (that’s December 5, 12, and 19) at noon in the church library. It’s a wonderful way to slow down and enjoy the time with friends and neighbors.
Christmas Concert, 12/8 @ 4pm
What better way to get into the holiday spirit than with beautiful music? The Chancel Choir and Friendly Chimers will present our annual Christmas Concert on Sunday,12/ 8. Join us for an afternoon of inspiring Christmas including the Bach Cantata #142, "Uns ist ein Kind Geboren (For Us a Child is Born)" and traditional carols of the season. A free-will offering will be received.
“The First Christmas” Advent Bible Study, 12/8, 15, & 22 @ 11:30am
The story of Jesus’ birth was never just one story but several, with different communities using them to convey particular parts of their understanding of who Jesus was, what he did, and why. This Advent we’ll spend some time with Biblical scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan trying to untangle those strands and recapture some of the deeper meaning of these introductions to the “greatest story ever told.”
Holiday Cheeseballs, 12/4 @ 1:30pm; available after worship 12/8 & 15
It was a custom for many years that the Women’s Morning Fellowship made cheese balls for sale after church during the holidays. This custom was revived last year, and anyone who’d like to make cheese balls should come 12/4 @ 1:30pm. Cheese balls will be available for purchase after worship 12/8 & 15.
“Longest Night” Worship, 12/21 @ 7pm
Amid all the twinkling lights, it’s important to remember that Christmas isn’t just a celebration of light, but of love--love that comes to us in our bright and joyous times and also in the shadows of our lives, in times of confusion, anxiety, grief, even despair. Emmanuel, “God is with us,” in those seasons, as well. If that’s where you find yourself, come share this simple service for all for whom the holidays are hard.
Christmas Eve Worship
Christmas Pageant @ 4pm, Candlelight Service @ 9pm
O Come, all ye faithful: Christ is born!
“Five Golden Rings Sunday,” 12/29 @ 10am
Did you know that Christmas is really a season, not just a day? And that those “12 Days of Christmas” in the song refer to that season, the 12 days beginning on Christmas Day and ending with Epiphany (January 6)? So on this first Sunday in Christmastide--”Five Golden Rings Sunday”--we’ll linger in the joyous spirit a little longer with a simple service of prayers and carol-singing.
Behold! Epiphany Sunday, Intergenerational worship 1/5 @ 10am
An epiphany is a sudden insight, when we come to see the world differently in light of that unexpected truth. Epiphany Sunday is when the Church remembers the unexpected appearance of Gentile magi in the middle of a story about the Jewish messiah--and the impact of that light-bulb moment then and now. After celebrating Christmas for 2000 years, is the church still open to a life-changing epiphany today?